Legal Weed Could Worsen Worker Shortage

February 6, 2018
Already short handed employers are wrestling with failed drug tests that detect legal pot use

It's a Catch-22 situation for workers and employers who are located in parts of the U.S. and Canada where it is legal to partake of recreational marijuana but not legal to have detectible trace amounts of drugs in their body on the job. reports employers are worried that fewer applicants will test clean enough to hire.

The problem is that the active ingredients in marijuana can remain in a person’s bloodstream for weeks, long after the high is gone. Current drug testing can't tell whether a candidate indulged in pot at home over the weekend or smoked a joint in the car on the way to the job interview.

Already legal in eight states and Washington, D.C., recreational marijuana is on track to become legal in Canada this summer and Garnet Amundson says it will get a lot harder to find the workers he needs at Calgary-based Essential Energy Services Ltd. "It’s a little like somebody said to us, ‘If you’ve had a drink in the last two months, you’re considered not fit for duty,’” said Amundson, Essential Energy’s chief executive officer.

The prospect of more job applicants failing drug tests is a big concern for construction and energy industries that are expanding and need more workers.

Read Bloomberg's Legal Weed Could Mean Worker Shortage in Canada for how one country is working through the issue.